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With the exception of vaccination, masking is still the best way to help reduce COVID-19 risk.

Why It Still Matters

Abundant research has shown that mask-wearing helps prevent COVID-19 transmission. The arrival of more-transmissible variants means that mask-wearing, especially for those that are unvaccinated or who interact with unvaccinated folks, is more critical than ever.
  • The Delta variant is highly contagious

    People infected with Delta, which became the predominant variant in the US over the summer of 2021, carry about 1000 times as much virus as people infected with the original coronavirus. This increased viral load also increases the chance that an infected person will spread the disease to others.
  • Masking is a critical part of the Swiss Cheese Respiratory Pandemic Defense

    “No single intervention is perfect at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Each intervention (layer) has holes.” But if we put several layers together, the risk of infection decreases dramatically. Masks remain a critical part of this system, which was developed by Ian M. Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), and collaborators.

    Want evidence? Researchers tested the Swiss Cheese idea using a model, and it worked! The more layers of mitigation we put in place, the lower COVID-19 transmission will be. Full article requires subscription, but you can read the abstract free of charge.

  • Masks Work. Really. We’ll show you how.

    This excellent animation from the New York Times shows how masks trap virus particles. Check it out!

    This video shows how wearing a mask protects both the wearer and a person nearby. From the ABC Science Collaborative in North Carolina.

  • Mask use and ventilation improvements reduce COVID-19

    This study showed that “COVID-19 incidence was 37 percent lower in schools that required teachers and staff members to use masks and 39 percent lower in schools that improved ventilation.” Research in North Carolina showed the same thing: Masking reduces COVID-19 transmission in schools.
  • COVID-19 hasn’t gone away - instead, it’s mutated

    This CDC tool allows you to track COVID cases, deaths, testing, variants, and more. Some information is presented at the state level, other info at the county level.

How to do it

Now that we’re facing more-transmissible variants, what kinds of masks we wear and how we wear them is even more important.

Your guide to masks

If you choose a cloth mask, pick one that:

  • Fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn't have gaps
  • Has two or more layers of washable breathable fabric
  • Has a nose wire that prevents air from leaking out of the top of the mask
  • Complete covers your nose and mouth

This CDC overview includes tips on how to properly fit a mask to a child as well as instruction on wearing and removing a mask properly.

NOTE: You can now buy N95 and KN95 masks without worrying that you’re taking one away from a health-care worker.

Improve how your mask protects you

- Use and Care of Masks

  • Decrease gaps between the mask and your face as much as possible. That will prevent virus particles from entering through the gaps.
  • Wear the best quality mask (or combination of masks) that you can. Example: A two-layer cloth mask blocks about 30% of virus particles. A KN95 blocks about 85% of them.

Page includes downloadable English, Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu PDFs.


- How to Knot and Tuck Your Mask

Interested in ordering higher-quality masks for your school community? You can find N95, KN95, and surgical masks from verified vendors on the website of the nonprofit Project N95.

Types of masks

Which is the best mask? From most effective to least effective:

N95, KN95, disposable (surgical) maks under cloth mask or mask brace, Knotted and tucked disposable (surgical) mask, surgical mask or cloth mask alone.

Tips to help children with autism wear face masks

This article from the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center offers insights and detailed tips on how to best help those with autism to become more comfortable with wearing masks.

“Yo uso mi mascarilla porque me preocupo por mi comunidad!”

The “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19!” campaign, from University of Texas Health, San Antonio, offers great bilingual resources! The website features fact sheets, infographics, and videos about mask wearing, in both English and Spanish.

Social media tools

#NativesStoptheSpread The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has an array of social-media toolkits aimed at combating COVID-19, many of them geared towards kids and youth. Go to their resource library and search for “mask.”

A Mask for Every Occasion Scroll down to find downloadable infographics in Spanish, Vietnamese, and English, from the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Important Regulatory Information about SalivaDirect™

SalivaDirect™has not been FDA cleared or approved. It has been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization for use by authorized laboratories. The test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. This test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.